The Dolphins and Colts are similar in many respects in that both are rebuilding this year after a difficult 2011. The Dolphins have a new coach. The Colts have a new coach. The Dolphins are going with a rookie first-round quarterback. The Colts are going with a rookie first-round quarterback.
But the manner in which they are approaching this year is obviously different and that difference showed clearly in the trade that yesterday sent cornerback Vontae Davis from Miami to Indianapolis.
The truth is the Colts until Sunday had a major hole at one of their cornerback spots. It was as big as the hole the Dolphins have at, say, wide receiver.
But unlike the Dolphins who have this offseason addressed the wide receiver need on the cheap with low-round draftees and signing a has-been and troubled veteran in Chad Johnson, the Colts went more aggressive.
The Colts began shopping for ways to address their need. Early last week the team began searching for a way to plug that leaky hole in the defense. And knowing that Vontae Davis had lost his starting job in Miami, the Colts called asking to acquire him.
The Colts' first offer was a sixth-round pick.
Miami general manager Jeff Ireland, who had not been shopping Davis, told the Colts he was not interested.
By Thursday, the offer was improved to a fifth-round pick. Ireland still had no interest in that price for a player he views as troubled but still worthy of keeping given his age, ability, relatively cheap cost and the first-round investment he had in Davis.
So the Colts let that sit for a while.
And Saturday the Colts came back again -- this time offering a third-round pick for Davis. I have to give Indianapolis GM Ryan Grigson credit for persistence. He latched on to the idea of getting Davis like a pitbull locks down on a steak and didn't let go. And, of course, while he was showing little interest in the offers, Miami GM Jeff Ireland was not saying, "Stop calling me!"
Ireland was open to the idea of trading Davis, but at a price he wanted. That goes back to the Bill Parcells school of thought that "Everybody is on the trade block all the time." (For the right price).
The third-round offer got Ireland's attention in that serious, serious negotiations began to take place between the teams. The Colts were finally in the ballpark but Ireland wanted more. And the fact they were in the ballpark encouraged the Colts they might be able to solve their gaping defensive problem. It also encouraged Ireland that he could get a premium draft pick in this deal.
It was sometime late Saturday or early Sunday when Grigson came back with the second-round offer. The offer put Ireland on the hook but to reel him in, Grigson had to add the conditional sixth-rounder that he ultimately included in the deal.
Although he will never say it, Ireland obviously believes the Colts to be rebuilding and is banking on them having a high pick in next year's draft so, in his mind, he's not just getting a No. 2 but potentially a high No. 2. Grigson, meanwhile, sees that his draft picks will be a lot lower now that he's got a set of corners he's happy about to play games in this pass-happy league. He believes Colts coach Chuck Pagano can get major production out of Davis that obviously Joe Philbin and his staff didn't think they could get. And he believes he can compete and win a lot of games this year, particularly with the Davis addition.
One more thing: It doesn't bother Grigson that Davis has been dogged by "character" issues that include drinking. He believes the 24-year-old can be molded and will mature.
Publicly, they're saying all the right things about not giving up and not being diminished by this trade even though it is not arguable that they are not as good right now, today, as they were before they traded Davis on Sunday.
A lockdown cornerback is simply hard to find in today's NFL.
But the Dolphins have added valuable "ammunition," as Ireland called it and that can be used to address other issues in the future. Yes, I said the future. The truth is that while many fans have the expectation that the Dolphins are going to turn around and use their shiny, new second-round pick on a wide receiver (Miami's biggest hole now) in time for this season, I have serious doubts about that.
I think it's more likely the Dolphins have set themselves up for using that pick or packaging that pick in next year's draft to fill whatever needs this season proves the Dolphins have.
If it plays out that way, count that as a significant difference between the Dolphins and Colts. The Colts gambled and tried to get better on the fly by making a trade now -- even if it means chasing down a trade partner and giving up a second-rounder. The Dolphins would be taking a more careful approach, waiting until next April to use the pick they just acquired.